I hate the goddamn U-SCAN machines at my local grocery store. I have never been able to use these “convenient” devices without it becoming necessary for an attendant to get involved.

Take the other day, for example. That morning, my daughter was making oatmeal and discovered that we were out of milk. So I ran up to the store to get some. I ended up getting 2 gallons of milk and two small boxes of donuts. There was 1 checkout lane open and there were 6 people in line. I didn’t want to wait, so I thought I’d give the U-SCAN a try. I hadn’t used the U-SCAN in about 6 months because of previous less-than-satisfactory experiences, but I thought “what the hell.”

So I scan my first gallon of milk and it tells me to place the item in the bag. I do. It tells me (again) to place the item in the bag. At this point, my shoulders slumped. I looked to the sky and heaved a sigh that unmistakably said, “For the sake of all that is holy in this god-awful world….WHY?” Meanwhile the machine repeated its request: “Please place the item in the bag.” I lifted the milk out of the bag and set it down again. The U-SCAN continued with, “Please place the item in the bag.” Again, I lifted the milk and set it down again. This did nothing, for the U-SCAN still wished for me to “place the item in the bag.”

Now, even though these are U-SCAN machines, there is an employee of the store stationed in the area to help customers in need, to accept checks as payment, etc. I signaled for help. He came over and asked what the problem was. I told him. The machine, ever so politely, made its request again: “Please place the item in the bag.” You know what the employee did? He picked up the milk in the bag and set it down again. And it fucking worked.

“Sometimes you have to pick it up and set it down again,” he explained.

“Gosh, really? Thanks, I’ll remember that from now on.” He smiled and went back to his employee station. I turned back to machine and scanned my next gallon of milk.

“Please place the item in the bag.” I set it in the bag and nothing happened. After a few moments, the U-SCAN said, “Please place the item in the bag.” So I lift the milk up and set it down again. This time, however, the U-SCAN said, “Please wait for an attendant.”

What. The. HELL.

I turned to signal the attendant and found that he was already walking in my direction with some hand-held thing in his hands. He looked at my screen, pressed a few buttons on his hand-held and my scan registered. I started to thank him, but he was already walking back to his station. I scanned the first box of donuts.

“Please wait for an attendant.”

I stood there and shook my head in resignation. The attendant appeared at my shoulder, looking at my screen and pressing buttons on his hand-held. My scan registered. “Please place the item in the bag.” I did so, fully expecting no confirmation that I had done so. However, in a stunning turn of events, it did not repeat its request and was patiently waiting for me to scan my next item. I scanned the second box of donuts.

“Please wait for an attendant.”

“Suck on my dick.”

The attendant reappeared again, looking at my screen and pressing buttons. The scan registered, he disappeared. “Please place the item in the bag.” I put the box on top of the other box of donuts and pressed the PAY NOW button. Of course, there was NO ISSUE WHATSOEVER the payment process. That’s not surprising, really. It’ll take your money just fine.

I left the store with a strengthened resolve to not use the U-SCAN again. But I’m sure, in a future moment of weakness, I’ll forget the intensity of my current feelings and I’ll be lured into giving it another shot.